What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 47: CONGRUENCE
Congruence is broadly defined as internal and external consistency—being honest with one’s self and honest with others. Any lack of internal or external honesty is a weakening factor—a darkening, eye-dropping loss of self. Almost every mortal lacks at least a degree of congruence, because virtually no mortal lives exactly as he knows he should, exactly as he would tell others to live.
Part of Christ’s incomparable personal magnetism and power came from his total congruence. He taught what he was. He was what he taught. He said what he felt. He felt what he said.
Many men understand that power that comes from saying: “What you see is what you get. I may not be perfect, but I am genuine. I am real. I do not pretend to be anything that I’m not.” Imagine for a moment the strength that would lie in being able to say (as Christ did): “I am truth. I am the example for all. Come, follow me.”
The purpose of Christ’s life was to bear witness of the truth (see John 18:37), the kind of pure truth that frees men’s minds from ignorance and error (see John 8:32). His strongest rebukes were directed toward the dishonesty of hypocrites (see Matthew 15:7-9; Isaiah 29:13-15). His standard of honesty was total.
He demanded honesty not only in words and deeds, but in the motives behind the words and deeds. He was not pleased when the right things were done for the wrong reasons—including fasting (see Matthew 6:16-18), prayer (see Matthew 6:5-6), and service (see Matthew 6:1-4). Another definition of congruence, then, would be doing the right things for the right reasons.
Christ knew and taught that nothing can ever be right in a man’s life if he is not sincere. Some lives look better outside than inside. We may compare such lives to a large paste diamond—they win admiration from others but are secretly despised by those that live them. Christ’s congruence gave him the one thing more prized than the respect of others: the respect of self. Trying to win the approval of others can lead to insincerity unless the deeper motive is to be worthy of God’s love and to win self-respect. The real secret lies deep within the heart (see Matthew 15:19-20, Luke 16:15).
Christ’s congruence gave his life a consistency which allowed Him to “do always those things that please [God]” (John 8:29), and which caused his Father to say, on virtually every recorded instance when man has heard him speak: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
To win that “in whom I am well pleased” stamp of approval is the ultimate goal of every Christian life. Congruence is a vital key to that goal. It is the kind of total honesty that the Savior consistently displayed.